BRIDGMAN — A Michigan State House bill passed in the early hours of Oct. 27 that would declare short-term rentals as “a residential use of property and a permitted use in all residential zones” if also passed by the State Senate and signed by the Governor was discussed during the Nov. 1 Bridgman City Council meeting.

The Michigan House of Representatives passed HB 4722 – Short Term Rental Legislation during the early morning hours of Oct. 27 by a 55-48 tally after a marathon session that involved 11 proposed versions of the bill.

Local legislators split on HB 4722, with Brad Paquette voting against it and Colleen Wendzel supporting. Both are Republicans, and members of their party voted in favor of the bill by a 46-10 margin. Democrats in the State House opposed HB 4722 by a 38-9 split.

“This bill was passed after 2 a.m.” said Bridgman City Attorney Sara Senica. “There was really no warning. Even Michigan Municipal League didn’t have a warning that this was coming.”

She said it remains to be seen of the State Senate is going to take up the bill, make changes, “and if they pass it, is the Governor going to pass it?”

“This will seriously impact affordable housing, and it will change the face of how most of our municipalities look,” Senica said, later adding “What you’re losing with short-term rentals is workforce housing, which is what we’re desperate for.”

Residential short-term rentals are currently not allowed within the Bridgman city limits.

It was the general consensus of council members to invite State Senator Kim LaSata to the next meeting to discuss the issue.

Senica said House Bill 4722, as passed Oct. 27, would allow communities to limit the total number of short-term rentals to 30 percent of the residential units, noting that the bill discounts any short-term rentals in apartments for that percentage but includes condominiums.

City Manager Juan Ganum said there are approximately 1,000 housing units in Bridgman.

Mayor Vince Rose said he hopes communities can band together in some way if the bill becomes law.

Language of the bill passed Oct. 27 by the State House follows:

SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 4722

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

Sec. 206b.

(1) For the purposes of zoning, all of the following apply to the rental of a dwelling, including, but not

limited to, short-term rental: (a) It is a residential use of property and a permitted use in all residential zones. (b) It is not subject to a special use or conditional use permit or procedure different from those required for other dwellings in the same zone. (c) It is not a commercial use of property.

HB-4722,

(2) A local unit of government shall not adopt or enforce zoning ordinance provisions that have the effect of prohibiting short-term rentals.

(3) This section does not prohibit a zoning ordinance provision that is applied on a consistent basis to rental and owner-occupied residences and that regulates any of the following: (a) Noise. (b) Advertising. (c) Traffic. (d) Any other condition that may create a nuisance.

(4) This section does not prohibit a local unit of government from doing either of the following: (a) Inspecting a residence for compliance with or enforcement of an ordinance of the local unit of government that meets all of the following requirements: (i) Is for the protection of public health and safety. (ii) Is not a zoning ordinance. (iii) Does not have the effect of prohibiting short-term rentals. (b) Collecting taxes otherwise authorized by law.

5) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a local unit of government may limit the number of units under common ownership used for short-term rental in the local unit. The limit set by the local unit of government shall not be fewer than 2 units.

(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a local unit of government may limit the total number of units used for short-term rental in the local unit. The limit shall not be less than 30 percent of the number of existing residential units in the local unit of government and shall apply without regard to the location of dwelling units.

(7) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, a local unit of government that, as of July 11, 2019, had zoning ordinance provisions that regulate the rental of dwellings by overlay district without distinction between short-term rental and rental for longer terms, and that, as of July 11, 2019, had a rental overlay district or districts that were initiated by petition, may continue to enforce those zoning ordinance provisions as they existed on that date. Such a local unit of government may revise existing overlay district boundaries or create new overlay districts, but only under the terms of the zoning ordinance provisions as they existed on July 11, 2019.

(8) As used in this section: (a) “Common ownership” means ownership in whole or in part by the same individual, individuals, or legal entity. (b) “Short-term rental” means the rental of a single-family residence, a dwelling unit in a 1-to-4–family house, or any unit or group of units in a condominium, for terms of not more than 30 consecutive days.

Enacting section 1. This amendatory act takes effect 90 days after the date it is enacted into law.

Also on Nov. 1, the Bridgman City Council discussed the 2021 bill from the Berrien County Drain Commissioner’s Office totaling $24,659.93 for repair and maintenance of drains-at-large throughout the community.

In the City Manager’s Report for the meeting, it was noted that “In August 2021 the city experienced flooding due to a ‘500-year’ rain event, where 7 inches of rain fell in a less than four hours. The Drain Commissioner’s Office performed emergency work on Tanner Creek and Bedortha drains due to widespread flooding in the Hidden Creek subdivision. This work was outside of the normal maintenance.”

Ganum noted that the city’s bill in 2018 also was large ($28,941.14) following a substantial amount of improvements made to Tanner Creek. He said the total 2021 annual assessment for Bridgman is about $66,000, with the amount not billed to the city to be spread among property owners in the winter tax bill.

Ganum suggested organizing a public forum on the subject, adding that he would invite the drain commissioner to an upcoming City Council meeting to talk about having such a meeting for residents.

Council members ultimately agreed to seek more information on the 2021 Drain Assessment Invoice, and tabled action on it.

And the City Council heard from Matthew Schmidt, owner of Earned Run Real Estate Group (which includes Sunset Landing on Red Arrow Highway; Sunset Estates on Clark Street; Sunset Village on Baldwin; and Sunset Dunes on Lake Street – a total of 170 apartments in Bridgman).

Schmidt said a new development of at least 60 new rental units (all family-oriented dwellings with two to four bed rooms) in the form of townhomes, duplexes and single-family units in a “neighborhood flow” is being planned off Baldwin. He said land from Willow Street to Baldwin will be donated to the city so a connecting road can be built to help with other developments such as a Habitat for Humanity project and provide a way to bypass the downtown area.

Also during the Nov. 1 Bridgman City Council meeting:

New holiday light pole banners (reading Peace, Love and Joy) were presented.

Eugene Herman of American Legion Post 331 was thanked for the dedication of a marker “In Remembrance of Those Who Never Came Home” to go at the base of the flag pole at City Hall (a small ceremony is planned for Veteran’s Day).

Ganum reported that he is working with F.C. Reed Middle School STEM lab teacher Kerri deBest on a project to involve students with the city’s downtown parking area development project by creating three-dimensional models of the structures shown by Housing Next’s architect.

In the City Manager’s Report, it was reported that Lake Township is undertaking the development of a revised parks and recreation master plan and have asked the City to help spread the word about a community survey that can be accessed at www.surveymonkey.com/r/LakeCharterParksPlan

The minutes from the Oct. 21 Planning Commission meeting included the following: Lake Street Eats is looking at reopening under new owners. Their plan is to expand to the adjacent building that is currently being used for storage.

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